Black Lightning, the latest in the CW’s live action DC series, is electrifying…
Cress Williams (forever known as Scooter from Living Single) convincingly portrays the reluctant former superhero turned respectable citizen, mildmannered family man and high school principal Jefferson Pierce. His daughters, Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) are both standout students and hell on wheels, the eldest in the pursuit of social justice and the youngest just looking for independence via “pop off” rebellion.
The neighborhood, Freedland, is a bubbly cauldron of police profiling and gang activity, ready to erupt into the kind of violence that needs a vigilante hero to step in. Alas, Pierce hung up his suit after losing a wife more interested in a safe, quiet family life over sleepless nights of mortal worry. A good hero never stays down and soon danger threatens the Pierce family and forces Black Lightning out of nine year hiatus.
Black Lightning is pretty action packed from the start, also paced to set up the family dynamics, the protagonist’s backstory, and introduce several villains, including the Big Bad, Tobias Whale (Strong Arm Steady emcee, LA’s Krondon!) — not to be confused with fallen Arrow villain Tobias Church or Hannibal pal Tobias Budge. BL even manages to include hints that the super powered apple didn’t fall far off the tree, with the Pierce daughters already have pretty great fighting moves. If I had any complaints about the pilot, it’s the suit; a little clunky for my tastes — and in need of a slicker design — despite its impressive mobility during fight scenes.
Above all, Black Lightning manages to tackle racial dynamics, gang violence, and respectability politics with unapologetically Black dialogue and characterizations. In addition to setting it off just less than 24-hours after Martin Luther King Day, CW has a WOKE superhero suited for the modern age, and a fantastic appointment TV serial. 4.5/5 Bibles.